The latest Department of Agriculture slaughter data for cows shows there were 133,305 cows killed in the first four months of the year, a reduction of 4,732 head on the corresponding period in 2022.

A breakdown of kill data shows the 2023 kill comprises 91,110 dairy cows, with 89,920 of these slaughtered in Department of Agriculture-approved plants and 1,190 in local authority-approved plants.

This compares with 94,088 dairy cows slaughtered in Department-approved plants for the first four months of 2022, with 1,538 head processed in local authority-approved plants.

Beef cows

The kill data for beef cows shows there were 37,126 cows slaughtered in Department-approved plants and a much higher number, relative to dairy cows, of 5,069 beef cows in local authority-approved plants. The corresponding figures for 2022 were 35,635 and 6,826 head.

The cow kill figures are lower than anticipated, with many in the industry expecting higher throughput of dairy cows, given the expansion that has occurred in recent years.

The high number of beef cows passing through mart sales has also given the impression that there is a much higher throughput of beef cows in recent months, but this is being driven by a higher number of farmers opting to show cows live rather than sending direct for slaughter.